Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

In case you missed it, in an 8-1 decision today, the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Washington’s voter-approved public records Supremelaw, retaining the public’s ability to obtain copies of petitions signed in favor of placing initiatives and referenda on the ballot. Attorney General Rob McKenna personally argued the case on behalf of the state.

The Washington Post reports:

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the 8-1 judgment for the court, said it is vitally important that states be able to ensure that signatures on referendum petitions are authentic.

"Public disclosure thus helps ensure that the only signatures counted are those that should be, and that the only referenda placed on the ballot are those that garner enough valid signatures," Roberts said. "Public disclosure also promotes transparency and accountability in the electoral process to an extent other measures cannot."

Justice Clarence Thomas was the only dissenter.

Twenty-four states have some form of ballot initiatives, according the National Conference of State Legislatures, and more than half of them supported Washington state's position in this case.

Rob McKenna, the state's attorney general, called it a good day for "transparency and accountability in elections - not just in Washington but across our country."

"We're pleased the Supreme Court ruled in favor of disclosure, upholding the public's right to double-check the work of signature gatherers and government - and giving them the ability to learn which voters are directing the state to hold an election on a new law," McKenna said. "Citizen legislating is too important to be conducted in secret."

AG McKenna and Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed held an impromptu news conference this morning to discuss the case and answer questions from reporters. We've posted the audio here.

-Dan Sytman-